The Friday Five – August 11, 2017

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It’s been a pretty good week for new releases.  We got new tunes from The National, Prawn, Florist, P!nk.  We even got a new track from a favorite of mine, Tori Amos, though I can’t say I’m crazy about the song.  It feels too sterile, too produced, to hit me in the gut the way Tori normally does.  And I suppose you could say the same for the new P!nk track — it is fairly predictable, a standard pop tune.  But her voice is strong enough to pull me in.

If you haven’t had a chance to check any of these songs out, give ’em a listen.  And happy Friday!

The National – Carin at the Liquor Store

Florist – Glowing Brightly

Prawn – North Lynx

P!nk – What About Us

Tori Amos – Up The Creek

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The Friday Five – August 4, 2017

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I’ll be back in the PNW in a couple of weeks, and by some crazy awesome luck, I’ll also be seeing two fantastic bands perform while I’m there: Filthy Friends, and Wimps. When I booked my airfare eight months ago, I hoped that there would be some good shows taking place while I was out that way. There’s always great music happening in Portland and Seattle, but I didn’t expect to see some of my faves. When I found out Filthy Friends (the supergroup headed by Corin Tucker and Peter Buck) was performing in Eugene, I grabbed tickets. We’d planned a day in Eugene anyway to check out the local record shops, so it worked out perfectly. And then I found out Wimps would be opening for them — hooooo, that’s gonna be a good show.

Also, last time we were in Portland, we were supposed to go see Wimps, but then some assholes broke into our house back home and we had to fly out immediately. So this makes up for us not getting to see them last time.

For those readers who don’t know these bands, here are some tunes you can check out.

Wimps – Repeat

Filthy Friends – The Arrival

Wimps – Old Guy
(yeah, this might be me at the show that night)

Filthy Friends – Despierta

Wimps – Couches

The Friday Five – July 28, 2017

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It’s almost time for my vacation in the Pacific Northwest, so I’ve been busy creating playlists of all my favorite PNW bands, and deciding what albums off my want list I’d like to look for when I visit all those amazing record shops in Portland and Seattle.  I’ve had so much awesome ’90s music in my head that I thought I’d share a few of my favorites for this week’s Friday Five.  Now, I could easily just lay down five Sleater-Kinney tracks, because you know they’re my favorite PNW band.  But I’ll refrain.  For now.

Bangs – S.O.S.

Dear Nora – You Are 26

Lois – The Trouble With Me

Team Dresch – Remember Who You Are

Beat Happening – Godsend

The Friday Five – July 7, 2017

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I’ve been trying to slow myself down a little these days.  I’m spending less time online and more time outdoors.  I’m trying to rush less and pause more and allow time to pass at its own pace instead of urging it forward.  And with this change, I’ve found myself drawn to more soothing music.  I used to require the urgency of punk or good, driving indie rock to get me through the workday.  But these days, I fill my eight hours with a softer sound (with the occasional burst of Sleater-Kinney for the moments that need some electricity).

For this week’s Friday Five, I thought I’d share some of the quieter sounds I go to when I’m trying to stay grounded in the moment.

Frally – “Song Bird”

Sarah Harmer, Bry Webb & Jim Guthrie – “Long Time Before This”

Marketa Irglova – “Point of Creation”

Sufjan Stevens – “Death With Dignity”

Tori Amos – “Twinkle”

The Friday Five – June 30, 2017

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Tomorrow is Canada Day, so I thought it might be nice to highlight some of my favorite Canadian songs for this week’s Friday Five.  These are songs that are about Canada, or places in Canada, or being Canadian, or just have that distinctive Canadian vibe that I love so much.

B. Rich – Out for a Rip

The Tragically Hip – Bobcaygeon

The Arrogant Worms – Canada’s Really Big

PS I Love You – Princess Towers

Asani – O Canada

The Friday Zero

You might be wondering what the Friday Zero is. It’s when you get to the end of the week and realize that you’ve been so incredibly busy between work and travel and household duties that you never listened to a single new song. Not one. Not even the new Offa Rex track that you have waiting on your computer. And then you sit down Friday night after that very long week, wondering what the hell to do for your Friday Five.

Yes, I could just pull from the archives and give you five random songs, but if I haven’t been listening to them or thinking about them, it feels — I don’t know. Wrong.

Instead I give you a lame excuse, and an apology. Next week I will endeavor to set aside time for listening, no matter how hectic my days. And hey, if you’ve been listening to anything good this week, leave it in the comments!

The Friday Five – June 16, 2017

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Another great week full of music.  Check out some recent faves below.

Stars – “Privilege” & “We Called It Love”

New Stars.  How fantastic to wake up to new Stars.  There are two tracks, and I’m posting them both, because NEW STARS.

Spotify sucks and won’t embed, so click this link

Gordi – “Heaven I Know”

I’m new to Gordi, but dang, I’m loving the Imogen Heap vibes.  I spent Wednesday listening to hours of her music, and I’m hooked.

Charly Bliss – “Westermarck”

Fun tune, super fun video.

SOAR – “Fort Funston”

I kinda love music that references places (which is one of the reasons why I love Canadian music — Canadian musicians aren’t afraid to write about the places they know).  Specificity never hinders music, in my opinion.  So I’m digging this new tune by SOAR.

The Friday Five – June 9, 2017

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It’s late.  I should be getting some sleep since I’m taking a trip tomorrow to visit a good friend and see a concert, but I couldn’t skip posting five bangers for you guys.  This week has been flush with good tunes — so many that I have to save some for next week’s list.

I’m starting off with the brand new tune by Torres.  I’ve been waiting for this for AGES.  “Sprinter” was one of my favorite albums of 2015, and every time I listen to it, I just fall to pieces.  It’s a stunning record.  And I’ve been whining for months and months on Twitter, wondering when Torres would put out some new material.

And then she dropped her new track, “Skim.”  I bounced around in my cube like a maniac all day.  I posted gifs of a vintage Whitney Houston screaming and dancing.  I was SHOOK.  And the song is everything I had hoped it would be.  The video is not exactly SFW, so if you’re worried about that, head on over to Spotify to stream it.  But listen to it.  You have to.

Torres – “Skim”

Beth Ditto – “We Could Run”

Hot damn!  Another excellent track from Beth Ditto’s fresh solo album.  (Also check out “Fire,” ’cause GIRL.)

Alvvays – “In Undertow”

Oh man.  I love Alvvays.  I picked up their self-titled album while on a trip to Canada last year, and it still gets a lot of play during my workday.  Looking forward to their new album.

Waxahatchee – “Never Been Wrong”

The Crutchfields have superpowers.  I’m convinced of it.  Everything they do is amazing.  Check out the second offering from Katie’s upcoming album, “Out In The Storm.”

Iron & Wine – “Call It Dreaming”

Call me the whitest hipster ever, but I can’t help it.  Sam Beam’s voice just does something to me.  I actually got teary toward the end of this video, y’all.  But then again, I think that a lot of Iron & Wine songs make me cry.  I’m a sensitive hipster.

The Friday Five is back!

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Yes, the rumors are true.  After many months, the Friday Five is making its triumphant return!  Okay, well, triumphant might be a tad dramatic for a feature that probably has a total readership of two (my wife and my mother).  But it’s long overdue, especially because of the constant flood of incredible music that this otherwise-horrid year has been producing.  I’ve had to cut back significantly on my vinyl purchases (that whole building a new house thing, plus the ever-increasing cost of new vinyl), but I keep a list of everything I want so that I can slowly peck away at it when I get gift cards or have a few extra bucks.  And that list is HUGE.

This week’s selections are all new releases from some excellent bands.  Click on the name of the band if you like what you hear, and consider supporting them with a purchase.

Adult Mom – “Drive Me Home”

The newest record from Adult Mom, “Soft Spots,” has been in heavy rotation for the past few weeks.  It’s an incredibly strong, solid offering, and I love the way the sound expands and contracts and expands again as the album progresses.  This song takes the cake, though.

Big Thief – “Mary”

I hadn’t heard Big Thief before the release of their recent hit, “Mythological Beauty.”  I consider that one of my favorite songs of the year, and hoped that each subsequent track premiered would also drag me in and slay me with equal brutality.  I can’t say “Mary” destroyed me quite as completely as “Mythological Beauty,” but I’m weakened and crawling.

Tall Friend – “Oats”

Tall Friend is another new band to me, but I was immediately drawn to the sound.  It reminded me of Told Slant, and O, and Florist.  And then I found out that Emily Sprague (of Florist) was actually involved in the performance and production of Tall Friend’s upcoming album, so it suddenly made sense.  This song alone has me itching to click that pre-order button.

Offa Rex – “Blackleg Miner”

I’m down for anything The Decemberists do.  When they first announced their collaboration with Olivia Chaney, Offa Rex, I knew that I’d love it.  The band is really at its best when paying homage to the sea shanty or Appalachian music, and Offa Rex continues in that tradition, covering old British folk standards.  Seriously, if you didn’t know any better, you would think “Blackleg Miner” was a bonus track from “Castaways and Cutouts.”

Broken Social Scene – “Skyline”

Who else is incredibly excited about the return of Broken Social Scene??  I don’t even need to introduce this song.  Just listen.

Christine and the Friday Five

I’m such a Johnny-come-lately. Story of my life, really. I’m forever falling in love with bands who are no longer together or putting out music, or artists who have been active for a while and now have a large enough fanbase to make those smaller, more intimate concerts out of the question.

Many years ago, I listened to the album “Cloak and Cipher” by Land of Talk and was instantly transfixed, but then discovered that they’d stopped making music and were on some sort of unconfirmed indefinite hiatus. I was devastated. Thankfully they started making music again, and I was able to see them in Brooklyn this past spring, so all is well in the Land of Talk realm.

But I wasn’t so lucky with Wild Flag. Oh, Wild Flag. My biggest music regret is that I didn’t discover you until it was too late. By the time that single record release hooked its way into my heart, the dust had already settled on the band, and from what I hear, there is no possibility of a reunion. Not by a long shot. I console myself by purchasing every Wild Flag item I can get my grubby little hands on, whether it’s vinyl or buttons or posters or whatever. I have a ton of Wild Flag gig posters, though I never had the privilege of seeing them perform live. [Insert heavy sigh here.]

Over the past year, I’ve tried to immerse myself in all things music so that I don’t miss out again. I cruise around Bandcamp listening to anything and everything, trying on bands and artists like an armload of discounted clothes at Kohl’s. I’ve found some truly amazing artists this way. And I’m following all the necessary music news sources like Pitchfork, CoS, and a million others. I’ll admit that I don’t always check everything out that they recommend, but I do my best to give featured tracks and artists a listen. Of course, by the time they get to Pitchfork, chances are they’ve been around for a bit, or people have been following their careers for some time, even if they aren’t a household name. And it drives me kinda nuts when I’ve already missed out on all the cool limited edition vinyl releases, or tiny shows at basement clubs in New York. Those handmade Eskimeaux cassettes? Augh, I’m so bummed that I have to wait until one shows up on my preferred vinyl marketplace and then fight with other rabid fans to be the first to pay the outrageous mark-up fee. And that applies to so many artists for me.

And now that’s me with Christine and the Queens. Not that I can’t purchase a lot of the vinyl and such fairly easily, but I’m just here, scratching my head, wondering how I hadn’t heard of Heloise Letissier before a clip surfaced in my Twitter feed of her performance on Jimmy Fallon. I was captivated. Who was this dimpled, pint-sized firecracker of androgyny with mega Michael Jackson moves and a killer voice? She wasn’t simply a singer with backup dancers. There was something so different and refreshing and compelling about her routine. So of course I pulled up a Rolling Stone article on Heloise and her stage persona of Christine and the Queens, and I read about her struggles, her search for identity that challenged preconceived notions of gender and sexuality, the story behind her stage name and the events that led up to it. I loved the way she looked at the world, and what she was trying to achieve with this music, this persona. She’s awkward, she’s different, she’s outspoken, she’s tilted. And it’s not like she’s the first artist to come along and bring that energy, but somehow this resonates with me far more than other efforts. She’s David Bowie and Michael Jackson and Price rolled into one. She’s Hedwig. And Hedwig, for me, was transcendental. Transformative. When I first heard John Cameron Mitchell and Stephen Trask’s brilliant story and music for “Hedwig and the Angry Inch,” I felt like everything just clicked. To paraphrase a quote from a favorite movie (“Little Children”), it was as if I had been listening to a radio, and someone turned the dial just a hair and everything suddenly came through crystal clear. The static of life as a bit of an outsider, as someone tilted, faded a little, even if just for the time when the music was in my ears. That’s what music should do, right? It should transport you. It should elevate you. It should draw emotions and ideas out of you that you didn’t know existed.

The static was gone last Friday as I watched YouTube video after YouTube video. I was so impressed by the entire package of Christine and the Queens — the singing, the dancing, the OUTFITS, the expression and individuality. And once again, I felt something click. I felt uplifted. And I haven’t stopped listening all week, despite my crushing disappointment that I was such a Johnny-come-lately to Christine, I discovered her two days after she performed in Boston (the one shot I would have had at seeing her live). Curses. And I’m also still perplexed that I hadn’t heard of her before last week when she’s been so popular in France for years. And I like music out of France.

But it’s okay. I’ve got her in my wheelhouse now, and that’s what matters. Until I can procure all the Christine and the Queens vinyl, I’ll make do with the YouTube videos. Which leads me to the Friday Five portion of this post…

It’s all Christine and the Queens. Listen to it. Love it.

1.  “Tilted”

This song has gone through a few iterations. First it was “Cripple,” I think. And then “Christine” for the French release. And then it was rewritten again as “Tilted” for us non-French-speaking folk. I dare you not to dance.

2.  “Saint Claude”

She’s Michael Jackson. Seriously. I love the way they twist and stretch her body in this video, too. But those moves, man.

3.  “Jonathan” feat. Perfume Genius

This song. This video. After watching it twice, I proclaimed that I wanted it to be played at my funeral, and I was only half joking. I mean, come on. What a perfect marriage.

4.  “Half Ladies” (live in Boston)

So, the sound quality is pretty shaky, but the energy in this performance is unreal. Those moves!! I want to learn that dance. I want to dance it in my living room every morning so my day will be awesome.

5.  “Do Not Despair”

This video creeps me the fuck out, but it’s also mesmerizing.